Awesome/Incredible in SF!

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WVHillbilly
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2006/04/15 13:28:00 (permalink)

Awesome/Incredible in SF!

Swans Oyster Depot. . .
It just doesn't get any better. Foods that are simple in their preparation but magnificent in their taste. Everything except the NE Clam chowder (the only hot dish available) is prepared right in front of you. Their salads consist of a bed of lettuce with a huge pile of dungeness crab meat, shrimp, "prawns (small shrimp)" or a mixture. Top it off with "Louis" dressing, which is very similar to thousand island dressing, and it just makes you very, very happy.
Their seafood cocktails are big helpings of whatever seafood you'd like or a mixture, swimming in an interestingly spiced tomato sauce in a cocktail cup. There are plenty of lemons, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and other sauces on the counter to add to the taste.
Thier clam chowder is simply one of the best I've ever had, and I've spend LOTS of time in Boston and the surrounding area. It's not thick and creamy, but the clam taste is as strong as any I've ever had with big chunks of obviously fresh clam, and the mixture of veggies and their texture and taste is perfect. My wife is also a clam chowder junkie (spent her summers in Essex as a kid) and was as enthusiastic about it as I was. We both agreed that it was everything a clam chowder needed to be. They collect the juice from their clam shucking operation and add it to the chowder.
Their raw items were exactly what you'd expect from a fresh seafood place. We sampled all their PNW oysters and all were juicy and delicious (once you've had Pacific oysters, you'll never want another east coast). Their cherry stone clams were incredible. . . plump, juicy, delicious and almost more than a mouthful. I assumed they were Ipswitch, but was told they were from Long Island (where good clams also grow).
The four brothers who run the place are all funny guys who love to talk to the customers no matter how crowded the place becomes. In two visits, we got a lot of history on the place and the family.
Go there. Pay the large prices. If you are a seafood junkie like me, you will not regret it.
Simply the best!
#1

26 Replies Related Threads

    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 17:09:35 (permalink)
    Ipswich clams are softshell clams and are used for steaming and frying. They're not normally eaten raw. Cherrystones are quahogs -- hard-shell clams.
    #2
    BT
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 18:29:36 (permalink)
    Swan is well-known to roadfooders. Unfortunately, it's well-known to much of the world, so there can be lines. The prices have never struck me as out of line in comparison to other San Francisco places.

    There are alternatives, though. Dungeness cocktails, of course, are readily available at Fisherman's Wharf.

    On Castro between 16th and 17th, there's the Anchor Oyster Bar ( http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2731483-anchor_oyster_bar_and_seafood_market_san_francisco-i ):



    And there's Hog Island Oyster Co in the Ferry Building ( http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/39421564 ):

    #3
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 18:48:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    Ipswich clams are softshell clams and are used for steaming and frying. They're not normally eaten raw. Cherrystones are quahogs -- hard-shell clams.


    Yes, some of them are. They also harvest some of the best cherrystones in the Ipswitch/Essex area.

    You're right BT, by SF standards, the prices are not out of line. In fact, for what you get, they aren't bad.
    I've found the crab cocktails at the wharf to be a bit less fresh, or maybe they just sit out too long. It's VERY touristy down there.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 19:42:06 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    Ipswich clams are softshell clams and are used for steaming and frying. They're not normally eaten raw. Cherrystones are quahogs -- hard-shell clams.


    Yes, some of them are. They also harvest some of the best cherrystones in the Ipswitch/Essex area.


    True. But the Cherrystones from that area are not called Ipswich clams. They're called quahogs and pronounced CO-hogs..
    #5
    plb
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 20:34:08 (permalink)
    I saw the TV show $40 A Day recently where Rachel Ray visited San Francisco and had lunch at Swans Oyster Depot. They tried to get her to order a number of different dishes.

    She ended up ordering only 1/2 of a Dungeness crab and then stiffed them on the tip. That's the way she stayed under $40 for the day. She also claimed to have had Dim Sum in Chinatown for something like $6.50 (including taxes and tip).
    #6
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 21:20:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


    True. But the Cherrystones from that area are not called Ipswich clams. They're called quahogs and pronounced CO-hogs..


    That seems to be the case when one is outside of the MA coastal area. . . kind of a catch all phrase for fried clams. Locals refer to the "softshells" as "friers." The others are cherrystones and they also have a weird little clam called "steamers" or "pissers (you've got to soak the sand out of them)," but where I grew up, we only steamed cherrystones.
    I've also recently seen regular hard clams referred to as "quahaugs." We only used that term to describe great big chowder clams.
    #7
    BT
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 22:23:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by plb

    She also claimed to have had Dim Sum in Chinatown for something like $6.50 (including taxes and tip).



    It's entirely possible to have dim sum in Chinatown for $6.50. It's a question of how much dim sum. Generally a pork bun will run you about $1, one dumpling (potsticker) about $0.50. If you sit there grabbing plates one after the other, it's gonna cost you more than $6.50 but if you eat just one or two items, you can do it. Even at Yank Sing (not in Chinatown but possibly the best in town) you can do it. On their take-out menu there's (just 2 examples):

    2. YANK SING EXPRESS $6.15
    Spring Roll
    Pot Sticker
    Steamed Pork Bun
    Chow Mein

    5. PHOENIX $5.75
    Spring Roll
    Pot Sticker (2)
    Siu Mye
    Chow Mein
    Fried Rice

    And here's some a la carte prices:

    DEEM SUM A LA CARTE
    Potsticker $0.85
    Siu Mye $0.85
    Spring Roll $1.10
    Chicken in Foil $1.05
    Steamed Pork Bun $1.30
    Baked Pork Bun $1.50
    Fried Rice $3.55
    Chow Mein $3.55
    Singapore Chow Mein $4.00
    Sesame Ball $0.95
    #8
    BT
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 22:28:25 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly


    I've found the crab cocktails at the wharf to be a bit less fresh, or maybe they just sit out too long. It's VERY touristy down there.


    Well, touristy it is, but the crab cocktails (and the opportunity to laugh at tourists who think it should be shorts weather just because it's August)) are the one reason locals go there. On a slow day they might not be too fresh, but generally they are right out of the cooker.
    #9
    Jimeats
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 23:02:21 (permalink)
    Three experts weighing in on a subject and all from different areas of the country. Chow Jim
    #10
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 23:44:52 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


    True. But the Cherrystones from that area are not called Ipswich clams. They're called quahogs and pronounced CO-hogs..


    That seems to be the case when one is outside of the MA coastal area. . . kind of a catch all phrase for fried clams. Locals refer to the "softshells" as "friers." The others are cherrystones and they also have a weird little clam called "steamers" or "pissers (you've got to soak the sand out of them)," but where I grew up, we only steamed cherrystones.
    I've also recently seen regular hard clams referred to as "quahaugs." We only used that term to describe great big chowder clams.

    Hardshell clams in New England are quahogs. Steamers are softshell clams, or pissers. And, speaking only as someone who grew up digging softshell clams as a kid, and digging them later for a living, I have to tell you I've never heard of anyone steaming cherrystones,or any other hardshell clam -- in New England. By the way, you don't soak the sand out of softshell clams. You put them in buckets of water with corn meal and let them ingest the corn meal and expell the sand.
    #11
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/15 23:57:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman


    True. But the Cherrystones from that area are not called Ipswich clams. They're called quahogs and pronounced CO-hogs..


    That seems to be the case when one is outside of the MA coastal area. . . kind of a catch all phrase for fried clams. Locals refer to the "softshells" as "friers." The others are cherrystones and they also have a weird little clam called "steamers" or "pissers (you've got to soak the sand out of them)," but where I grew up, we only steamed cherrystones.
    I've also recently seen regular hard clams referred to as "quahaugs." We only used that term to describe great big chowder clams.

    Hardshell clams in New England are quahogs. Steamers are softshell clams, or pissers. And, speaking only as someone who grew up digging softshell clams as a kid, and digging them later for a living, I have to tell you I've never heard of anyone steaming cherrystones,or any other hardshell clam -- in New England. By the way, you don't soak the sand out of softshell clams. You put them in buckets of water with corn meal and let them ingest the corn meal and expell the sand.


    Wow, you are one smart guy. I defer to your superior intellect!
    #12
    BT
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/16 01:22:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly

    Locals refer to the "softshells" as "friers."


    When I was a kid on the Chesapeake, we referred to them as "chum". We'd smash up a bucket of 'em, dump 'em over the stern and wait for the rockfish (striped bass) or bluefish to come calling.

    By the way, could you guys fix the "quotes" so I can follow the argument.

    Oh, and Hillbilly--he ain't so smart.
    #13
    tacchino
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/16 02:26:52 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by plb

    I saw the TV show $40 A Day recently where Rachel Ray visited San Francisco and had lunch at Swans Oyster Depot. They tried to get her to order a number of different dishes.

    She ended up ordering only 1/2 of a Dungeness crab and then stiffed them on the tip. That's the way she stayed under $40 for the day. She also claimed to have had Dim Sum in Chinatown for something like $6.50 (including taxes and tip).


    This is what I do not like about her show...she barely tips the minimum (if you consider 15% of a tab, not including tax or alcohol, even a reasonable minimum), and she will scrimp and pinch pennies in more expensive places (she'll only order water to drink with her meal, she will only order one of the cheapest entrees). It seems incredibly cheap behavior. My feeling is that if you can't afford to actually order a real dinner (i.e., even a soda and a salad with the cheapest entree on the menu would be better!) why not go somewhere else? More upscale places like she frequents on her show (even though it's a $40 dollar a day show) probably expect their patrons to spend more.
    #14
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/04/16 10:12:36 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    quote:
    Originally posted by WVHillbilly

    Locals refer to the "softshells" as "friers."


    When I was a kid on the Chesapeake, we referred to them as "chum". We'd smash up a bucket of 'em, dump 'em over the stern and wait for the rockfish (striped bass) or bluefish to come calling.

    By the way, could you guys fix the "quotes" so I can follow the argument.

    Oh, and Hillbilly--he ain't so smart.


    HA! That's what we used to do with mussels and pissers out on the LI Sound. We'd have never thought of eating the darn things.
    Yea, I'm the product of an inferior ejukayshun, but I keep tryin.
    #15
    kevin279p
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/17 21:59:54 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by plb

    I saw the TV show $40 A Day recently where Rachel Ray visited San Francisco and had lunch at Swans Oyster Depot. They tried to get her to order a number of different dishes.

    She ended up ordering only 1/2 of a Dungeness crab and then stiffed them on the tip. That's the way she stayed under $40 for the day. She also claimed to have had Dim Sum in Chinatown for something like $6.50 (including taxes and tip).



    Rachel Ray is so phony. She always has the exact same ultra-exagerrated reaction to each piece of food she samples on that show. "MMMMMMM!!!" I saw the episode where she was in Seattle and she'd ordered a fish taco. Just before it went in her mouth, all of the filling fell out onto her plate so the bite she took was all tortilla. "MMMMMMM! SOOOOOO Good!" What a joke! And she almost never tips, when she does its some ridiculous amount like 12 cents!
    #16
    essvee
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/17 22:24:15 (permalink)
    Where I come from, just a bit up the coast (Old Lyme) from Mr. Hoffman, only the overgrown specimens are called quahogs, or chowder clams. The medium sizers were called cherrystones or just plain round clams.

    Thanks for the Swan's review, WV. I've lived here for almost fourteen years, and the line makes me turn around every single time. If you are still around, try the Tadish Grill for charcoal broiled petrale or sand dabs.
    #17
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/17 22:47:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by essvee

    Where I come from, just a bit up the coast (Old Lyme) from Mr. Hoffman, only the overgrown specimens are called quahogs, or chowder clams. The medium sizers were called cherrystones or just plain round clams.

    Thanks for the Swan's review, WV. I've lived here for almost fourteen years, and the line makes me turn around every single time. If you are still around, try the Tadish Grill for charcoal broiled petrale or sand dabs.


    Yea, like I originally stated, that's the way we called them back in the 50s and 60s.
    I think Mr. Hoffman mixes up facts and fiction and the meanderings of his own mind. He doesn't mean to do it, it just happens.

    Thanks for the tip on Tadish Grill. Next time I'm in SF. . .
    #18
    lleechef
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 02:07:34 (permalink)
    Not trying to be a food snob here or a know-it-all but in 15 years of cheffing in New England (last restaurant was a few miles down the road from Ipswich), I bought bushels and bushels of clams. To the best of my knowledge the most common hard-shell clams are (in order of size):

    Manilla
    countnecks
    littlenecks
    cherrystones
    quahogs

    And of course the soft shell clams "pissers" are used for frying or just steamed and served with lobster with butter for dunking.

    As to the above reference to nobody steaming a hard shell clam, I beg to differ. While it would be a crime to steam littlenecks or cherrystones.....best on the half shell in my book.......Manillas and countnecks are often served steamed in New England. Go to any Portuguese restaurant in Fall River and they'll be on the menu, steamed with choriso, tomatoes, hot pepper flakes, white wine and cilantro, served with a big hunk of crusty bread. They'll be in all the seafood soups. I really like cooked countnecks!

    Quahogs are for chowder (I've dug them at Crane Beach in Ipswich) and "stuffies". Last I heard from Nagle Co. in Boston, a gallon of chowder clams (meat) was going for $120. God only knows how much a bushel of steamer clams is going for now.

    WVHillbilly, thanks for the good write-up, we're spending the winter in California so we'll try it!
    #19
    cornfed
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 02:41:28 (permalink)
    Yeah, Swan's is good.
    #20
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 11:59:48 (permalink)
    lchef, Also, check out McCormicks down by the pier. It sorta caters to the tourists, not exceptionally expensive, but not cheap, it is a very nice looking restaurant, great views and we had a really wonderful meal there which was well prepared and presented by exceptional staff. . . nothing "Road Food" about it except that it was really good food and very comfortable dining. You can take the trolley from Union Sq. to the end of the line and be there.
    #21
    MandalayVA
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 13:05:16 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by tacchino
    This is what I do not like about her show...she barely tips the minimum (if you consider 15% of a tab, not including tax or alcohol, even a reasonable minimum), and she will scrimp and pinch pennies in more expensive places (she'll only order water to drink with her meal, she will only order one of the cheapest entrees). It seems incredibly cheap behavior. My feeling is that if you can't afford to actually order a real dinner (i.e., even a soda and a salad with the cheapest entree on the menu would be better!) why not go somewhere else? More upscale places like she frequents on her show (even though it's a $40 dollar a day show) probably expect their patrons to spend more.


    Uh-oh, up on the soapbox I go ...

    As much as I hate Rachael Ray (and I do), I have to ask ... what's wrong with only getting water to drink with your meal? I prefer not to drink alcohol when I know I'm going to be driving (and my husband is a recovering alcoholic so I don't drink in front of him), I got off soda a while ago and I don't like iced tea. Therefore, I drink water with my meals. If a restaurant is going to turn up their proverbial nose over this (probably because of the myth that those who only drink ice water are going to be cheap), then quite frankly I don't want to give them my business. Let them cater to those who believe expensive always equals good.

    BTW, our big splurge when we were in San Francisco was dinner at the French Laundry, which was very accommodating of our request of no alcohol. Instead, we got to try amazing ciders and juices with our food, many of them produced by local vineyards and paired perfectly with the food. It was worth every penny of the astronomical bill (and we tipped 30%).
    #22
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 16:40:49 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by kevin279p

    Originally posted by plb

    I saw the TV show $40 A Day recently where Rachel Ray visited San Francisco and had lunch at Swans Oyster Depot. They tried to get her to order a number of different dishes.

    She ended up ordering only 1/2 of a Dungeness crab and then stiffed them on the tip. That's the way she stayed under $40 for the day. She also claimed to have had Dim Sum in Chinatown for something like $6.50 (including taxes and tip).


    I'm not a fan of RR either. After getting a quick glance over her shoulder at the menu choices of the various restaurants she visits, I would always think about ordering something other than what she likes. If your on vacation and all you have to spend is $40.00 a day, then you should stick to "picnic meals" instead of going to an interesting restaurant and have to order by price rather than preference.

    Rachel Ray is so phony. She always has the exact same ultra-exagerrated reaction to each piece of food she samples on that show. "MMMMMMM!!!" I saw the episode where she was in Seattle and she'd ordered a fish taco. Just before it went in her mouth, all of the filling fell out onto her plate so the bite she took was all tortilla. "MMMMMMM! SOOOOOO Good!" What a joke! And she almost never tips, when she does its some ridiculous amount like 12 cents!
    #23
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/06/18 16:45:12 (permalink)
    Re: San Francisco: Swan Oyster Depot is the best! But, then, Tadich Grill and Acme Oyster are the best too!
    Damn the budget. Full speed ahead!
    #24
    johnsuber
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/07/13 04:51:52 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by twinwillow

    Re: San Francisco: Swan Oyster Depot is the best! But, then, Tadich Grill and Acme Oyster are the best too!
    Damn the budget. Full speed ahead!


    I have to agree about Tadich's and the Acme in New Orleans too,
    both are sublimely good. The thing about Rachel Ray's $40 a day gimmick
    strikes me as long out of date on reality. I used to travel in the SF
    and LA areas in the 1980s for weeks each year on contiuning education
    seminars and even then, nearly a quarter of a century ago, my meal per
    diem was $50 and I always tipped 20% or more back then since I had
    friends in the restaurant business and understood the compensation
    mechanism for servers and knew, I think, how to tell the reason for
    something is wrong, the kitchen or the server. She is obviously playing
    to the camera for the show's benefit. I don't blame her for water with
    lemon for example, if you don't care for alcohol for any reason or
    iced tea or a soft drink, what's the difference anyway as long as you
    aren't trying to get by solely under an artificially low price per day
    limit?
    #25
    captain_keevin
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2006/07/14 17:44:59 (permalink)
    Hey--what's wrong with Rachel Ray--she always has a smile (she is no snob), and she is friendly and very complimentary of the places that she visits. I have read that she is one of the most popular ladies on TV. I love seafood, and I don't see anything wrong with ordering water with a meal, if that's what one wants. Some people must live on a budget, so if she helps them figure out how to go to nice restaurants, enjoy the food and the atmosphere, leave a tip, and even plugs the restaurant, what's wrong with that? She seems to me like someone, whose company would be enjoyed, and she would be at home in a ballpark, or a 5 Star restaurant with gourmet chefs. Rachel is smart, attractive, communicates very well, and she is a chef and has her own show. Lay off Rachel!
    #26
    Crab Guy
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    RE: Awesome/Incredible in SF! 2007/01/01 17:18:40 (permalink)
    Regarding Rachel Ray: While she has become very popular of late (and overexposed in every media), you have to realize that has no formal culinary training, She admits this herself and prefers to be called a "cook," not a "chef."
    I find her perky personality a bit over the top, but hey, it's TV, not reality. As far as her $40 a day budget, she does cut corners, often ordering appetizers rather than entrees, and her tipping policy is insulting. I'd rather see her work with a larger budget (say $60), eat a reasonable/normal amount of food and tip at least 15%.
    While I have found several excellent restuarant experieinces through $40 a Day, I've never come close to spending as little as she does for a meal. Take it for what it is -- entertainment.
    The Big Bear
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